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Anna Malkina-Shumaeva

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She’s more than 80 years old, but Anna Malkina-Shumaeva doesn’t let that stop her from volunteering in the community she loves. She recently took time from making Passover packages for World War II veterans to share her thoughts about volunteering.

“When I came to the U.S., I decided to be a volunteer and help this country, and people who were less fortunate than me,” said Malkina-Shumaeva. “I volunteer at the Jewish Association Serving the Aging in Brighton Beach. Right now, we are putting together 600 Passover packages for needy people in Brooklyn.”

Malkina-Shumaeva also volunteers with the Be Proud Foundation, a group that aims to unite the Russian-speaking community to improve mutual respect and understanding between neighbors, to build bridges between different communities, and to send a message of peace and acceptance to people of all ages, backgrounds, and religions.

The Woman of Distinction’s friends say that while she’s not a youngster, she is certainly young at heart, serving as the “captain” for her team of 10 volunteers. Her friends sometimes scold her, telling her she is working too hard and should stop. She says she can’t.

“I’m happy when people around me are happy and smiling,” said Malkina-Shumaeva. “It’s not a matter of money, it’s a matter of what they have inside them. I don’t think I’m rich, but in my heart, I’m richer than a lot of people.”

Raisa Chernina, founder of the Be Proud Foundation, said that it’s because “in her heart, she is pure gold.”

“I think she has to change her middle name to ‘Giving,’ ” said Chernina. “I like to help people too, but when I see them not appreciate it, I will get upset. But she doesn’t. There’s an expression in Russian, ‘If you give too much, go far away or they won’t appreciate you.’ When Passover comes and we give away packages, everyone comes running like horses. Some people ask ‘What’s in the package?’ I think to myself, people who are really needy never ask; they just say ‘Thank you.’ But Anna never cares. She stays down to earth and just gives it to them.”

Chernina said that every fall in Sheepshead Bay, her organization holds the Annual Your Highness Grandmother Pageant. Sometimes Malkina-Shumaeva wins, sometimes she loses, but either way, she will perform a song on her violin. She has been playing for 25 years, said Chernina, and is talented despite her lack of formal musical training.

“If she decides to perform, then she’s a winner,” said Chernina. “At our 15th anniversary we did a Friendship Brunch, and she performed the song from ‘The Golden Girls.’ ”

Said Theresa Scavo, Chair of Community Board 15, “She’s good for the community and she’s always available to step up and help volunteer at any functions throughout the district. Anna is always one you can count on.”

Neighborhood:
Brighton Beach.

Occupation:
Community volunteer.

Company: Be Proud Foundation and World War II Veterans.

Claim to fame: Being nominated for such a great award makes me proud!

Favorite Brooklyn Place: Brighton Beach; I made up my own song about Brighton Beach and play it on the violin.

Woman I admire: The woman I most admire is my mother-in-law, Anna Shumaeva. She is 100 years old and she was a teacher. She taught children to read and write, and do math. And she still likes to read. She’s a very wonderful woman, and I think everybody should be like her.

Motto: Be young at heart. Age is just a number.

Updated 3:43 pm, June 1, 2018
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